In what will be a repeat of last edition's final, defending champions FC Goa clash with local giants Mohammedan Sporting Club in the opening Group A game of the 131st edition of the IndianOil Durand Cup.
The match is slated for a 7.00 pm kick-off at Kolkata's Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 16.
The Goa side is brimming with young talent and Mohammedan Sporting are at full throttle as the first official game of India's newest footballing season gets underway amidst a build-up which saw a Trophy tour of five-cities including Guwahati and Imphal, the two first time host cities.
The home team gaffer Andrey Chernyshov of Russia reiterated the importance of a win to open the season and also alluded to last year's loss saying, "We all remember that we lost to FC Goa in the last final. Of course, this will give us additional motivation in this match. But we also understand that this is the opening match of the tournament and is an additional excitement. We have lot of new players that we want to see in serious games. Therefore, it is very important for us to start the tournament with a win."
The Gaurs are being managed by Deggie Cardozo in this Durand edition and are also brimming with confidence with a well-trained and young side eager to grasp the opportunity of performing on the big stage.
They will be led on the field by the likes of Muhammed Nemil who first caught the eye a-la Sunil Chetri, in the previous edition of the Durand with a wonder goal. Phrangki Buam and Ayush Chetri also lend a lot of solidity to the line-up.
Coach Cardozo was as enthused as his team when he said, "We're excited to kickstart our Durand Cup campaign on Tuesday. As we face Mohammedan SC, it will be repeat of last year's final. They may have done their homework but so have we, and our focus is completely on ourselves and what we can do to get a good result."
He added, "Starting the tournament on a positive note, with a good result is important and that is what we hope to do on Tuesday. That the match will be held in front of fans gives us some extra motivation."
The Black & White brigade on the other hand have retained the nucleus of last year's squad with Trinidadian marksman Marcus Joseph still leading the lines. Players like Milan Singh in midfield and Abhishek Ambekar bring in the experience with the likes of former Lokomotiv Moscow and Tajik national-team recruit Nuriddin Davronov bringing in the likely x-factor.
All in all, it promises to be a competitive game of football on a heavy outfield at best, with rains lashing the City of Joy in the days building up to the game. He who slips best, will slip in with a victory.
The build-up to the game will see a short but elaborate and lively opening ceremony, with bands of the Armed Forces on display as well as a performance by star singers Papon and Rewben Mashangwa, of the tournament theme song.
(Catch the game LIVE and all 47 games of the 131st IndianOil Durand Cup on: Telecast: Sports18 1 SD & HD, and Sports18 Khel, Live-stream: VOOT)
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